The Great Grocery Grab of 2020 and the Ongoing Impact to U.S. Animal Protein

By Will Sawyer

January 2021

Key Points

  • 2020 was the most volatile and, for many, the most challenging year in U.S. animal protein history. The COVID-19 pandemic drove a historic shift to eating at home, temporarily closed nearly half of U.S. red meat capacity in the spring, and lifted retail meat prices to record highs.
  • In spring of 2020, U.S. food consumption reverted to a level of at home food consumption not seen since the early 1980s, and with that, the greatest and most rapid shift in meat and food supplies the industry has ever seen.
  • While 2020 may be over and U.S. protein supplies are back to normal, the foodservice sector has lost one in five restaurants nationally during the pandemic. It could be the back-half of 2022 before foodservice sales return to pre-pandemic levels as the restaurant industry rebuilds.
  • As U.S. animal protein consumption slowly returns to normal, the food service sector will still lag. That means a challenging outlook for food service-focused animal proteins including high-value beef cuts, poultry produced for foodservice specs, and labor-intensive processed meat products that are in short supply.

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